STUDY: PART 71
V. 1, 2 – In our previous studies we saw the splendor of the New Jerusalem with all its golden streets, its foundation of jewels, and its twelve gates made of solid pearls. In last week’s study we saw the glory of the New Jerusalem which is God and His Son Jesus. We learned that the Light in the New Jerusalem is the glory of God and that Jesus is that Light, that glory reflected from God. This week we will see the life of the New Jerusalem.
Many have asked me if there will be a need to eat and drink when we get to heaven. I often send them here to Revelation 22:1-5 for their answer. The River of Life will flow from beneath the throne of God and of the Lamb. This water is the water of regeneration and renewing. It’s a clear as crystal body of unpolluted water that will refresh spirit and soul. I do believe it’s a literal river that John saw and that we will drink from daily. John described it as, “…a pure river of water of life…” It will sustain us throughout eternity. This river comes from the Source of Life themselves, God and Jesus. What we are to learn from this is that when we are in the New Jerusalem, and for those who live on the new earth and come to the New Jerusalem to worship, we will drink from the river of eternal life.
I believe this river, along with the Tree of Life, are two elements that originally were I the Garden of Eden. Adam lost access to both by his sin. We will be restored to the position of grace and glory Adam so easily gave up. We will be nourished from the Tree of Life as it produces a different fruit each month of the year. It will never be depleted as the fig tree was.
The Tree of Life will produce leaves for the healing of the nations and fruit perpetually. The meaning of the “healing of the nations” is one that causes much controversy. Some think it means that we will need to eat those leaves to keep us healthy. Some think these leaves of the nations are only for the earth dwellers as they won’t have a spiritual body as those who were raptured will. Still others think they are for it’s to heal the animosity that was between the nations on earth which caused the wars. Since we know there will be no sickness or disease in heaven, we also know we will no longer require healing. Jesus accomplished all of that for us on the cross. My understanding of this verse is that the fruit and leaves of the tree will nourish our bodies and keep us healthy, not make us healthy.
V. 3, 4 – “And there shall be no more curse…” Never again will anything like the serpent from the garden be allowed to climb in the tree and bring a curse of death upon us. The ground will never again be cursed. We will live in paradise with God the Father, Son, and Spirit.
We will be completely righteous and holy, serving God with joy and praise. There won’t be a time when we will curse using God’s name again. Our language, our conversations, our fellowship with God and man will be driven from pure motives. We will never hurt or cause hurt again. How can we be so sure of all this? By the knowledge of the truth that God and Christ will be with us and that satan, the beast, the antichrist and all their followers will be locked up forever in the Lake of Fire. They won’t be there to cause dissension between the nations. Also, Jehovah Shammah, the Lord is here, will be with us. Jesus will be with us. All will be perfection.
Verse 3 answers the question about whether or not we will have work to do in heaven. I’ve always said we will have as God frowns upon idleness. Read this with me, “…and His servants shall serve Him.” We who are in Christ know that we are servants of the most high God. We are kings and priests therefore we have work to do in the kingdom. “And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation” (Acts 16:16, 17).
We will never have to wonder what God or Jesus look like again for we will see them face-to-face. We will be able to go before the face of God just as the angels do now. That’s when we will see perfect holiness, purity, and light. That’s when we will understand perfect love which casts out all fear. There has never been a more wonderful intimacy in our lives as will be there when we see God and Jesus and are able to speak our love words of praise and worship to them directly. Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” I Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
Will the name of God actually be written on our foreheads or is our ability to stand before Him what this means? As a literalist when possible, I believe there will be some marking that will join us in spirit to God. We belong to Jesus but we will maintain our separate identities as well. What is your spiritual gift(s) or talent(s) right now? Are you a prayer warrior? I believe you will be in heaven too. Are you a teacher of the Word? Yes, you will teach in heaven. Are you an encourager? There will be a place for that as well. We will not be allowed to wile away eternity. Yes, we will have rest periods. God set that up and He never goes back on His Word. There will be a Sabbath rest with the Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8) and God each week.
V. 5 – Here John reiterates two facts he has already stated previously. First, there is no darkness in the New Jerusalem for God and Jesus are the Light (21:25) and second we will reign forever with the Lord (20:6). In this verse it says we will reign for 1,000 years, but our authority as kings will not end there. We will reign with Him forever. Jesus will turn over the kingdom to God and they will rule together, and we will rule with them.
We won’t need light from outside sources when we dwell in the presence of God. The Light of the World, Jesus will be sitting near the glory Light, God and that will light the New Jerusalem and reflect down to the new earth and up to the new heavens. We won’t need the light of the Gospel for the Living Gospel will be with us. We won’t need candles because we will never suffer a Power outage. We won’t need flash lights to search in dark corners, there won’t be any.
STUDY: PART 72
V. 6 – “Then he said to me…” Who is the he referred to here? It’s the same angel that came to John in Revelation 21:9. He is the angel that “talked” with John, “measured” the city and the surrounding wall, and showed him the “pure river of water of life”. I believe this was a high ranking angel as he was in the presence of God and the prophets. He declared that they, God and the prophets, had sent him to John with the message.
“These words are faithful and true.” Which words? The words we find in the book of Revelation are faithful and true just as our Savior is faithful and true. We must keep in mind that the words John wrote are the unveiling of Jesus and that He never goes back on His Word. What the Lord had John write we can believe because God cannot lie.
V. 7 – What is the message he brought to John for us? “Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.” These words were spoken by Jesus Himself and this is the first of three times Jesus will say it in this twenty-second chapter. He says it here in verse 7, in verse 12, then in verse 20. In verses 7 and 12, Jesus says “Behold” (idou) which is a word used to capture our attention and make us focus on what’s being said. In verse 20, it is “surely” or yes (nai), or absolutely. Jesus is coming quickly (tachu). He’s not coming shortly, immediately, rapidly, but quickly. This means He is coming swiftly with an alert and sharp mind, at once, suddenly.
In verse 7 we are again reminded of the blessing to come for those who read, hear, understand, and know the truth of this Revelation of the Christ. Revelation was not written as a vague hodgepodge of symbols to confuse us. It was written with the express purpose to reveal Someone. “Blessed is he who [keeps] the Words of the prophecy of this book.” I know it’s been at least 18 months since we started studying this book, but can you recall what Revelation 1:3 said? “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and [keep] those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”
To keep means to watch over (protect as a mother watches over her baby) and preserve the prophecy. Pastor Jerry Shirley said it well.
“Keep” means to watch over or preserve. It’s a dangerous thing to tamper with or alter the Word of God. Many modern translations play fast and loose with the scriptures…watering it down to the point that it loses its potency and power, and true meaning. Many twist it to make it say what they want it to say.”
Preserving something means to make sure it lasts, as with preserving fruit in jam. It means that once we hear this Word, it becomes our responsibility not only to learn it by study, but to keep it sacred. We are also to keep it by practicing it daily. Jesus reiterates here what John said in 1:3, if we read or hear the Revelation, we will be blessed. I dare say the blessing will be mighty if we also study it and practice what’s in it.
We should not participate in or teach dead works. Remember the warnings Jesus gave to the church at Sardis in Revelation 3:1-3. “And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”
We should not become involved with ministries that “water” down the Word to make it “understandable” or “palatable” to all. Some churches feel that if they water the truth, more people will attend their church and be saved. In reality, are these people truly saved? If they don’t know or understand the truth of the cross and the work Jesus did on that cross, can they understand the truth of salvation? Seems to me when pastors, or anyone else who divides the Word, teach a mushy version of the truth they are teaching false doctrine, therefore are considered false teachers. This has led to the development of many cults and these are dead works.
Let’s hear from Pastor Shirley again. “Cults get their start when they change what is the Word. They distort the Word of God, which frustrates the grace of God, which ridicules the Spirit of God, which thwarts the teachings of God, which minimizes the salvation of God.” Please pray this pastor will never diminish the Word of God or its authority in our lives. One thing to remember is that we cannot change the words or meaning of this Book (Revelation in this case, or the entire Bible). This is why I use the King James Version to teach and preach from. I believe the KJV is the best translation based on the original texts, although other versions certainly can help us understand what this one says by breaking things down for us.
V. 8, 9 – John makes sure to tell here that what he wrote for us with his physical hand is “these things” which he saw and heard with his spiritual eyes and ears. John once again became so overwhelmed by what the angel was teaching him that he falls at his feet to worship him. Again the angel tells him not to do that for he is merely a fellow servant (Revelation 19:10). Regardless of the position this angel holds in heaven, he’s still a servant like the rest of us. He is no more worthy of worship than any of us. Notice that the angel directs John to “Worship God.” He takes no credit for the works of the kingdom he is doing. We need to learn from this. It is important to always direct praise and glory to God. This is something those in leadership positions especially need to learn.
The angel did not tell John to stop worshipping altogether; he just helped him redirect his reverence to the right Person. The word “worship” (proskuneo) means to kiss toward, to show affection to, to bow down before a superior and give him the respect, reverence, awe, and adoration due him. God alone is ever worthy of praise and worship.
V. 10 – The angel said to John, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book for the time is at hand.” This is opposite to what the angel told Daniel. “And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (Daniel 12:9). What Daniel had to keep hidden, John has revealed. The time has come and is now for all that was written to be fulfilled.
Why would the directions be different for John then for Daniel? Daniel was seeing a future occurrence. John is seeing the imminent return of Jesus. This is the generation to see the catching away of the dead in Christ and the saints. We are the generation who can truly understand this Book. God wants us to not only understand it, but to proclaim to others, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (II Peter 1:20). What we learn, we share. Can you see how necessary studying the Word really is? Never give up your search through Revelation. What you uncover, share with me and others. It will nourish the body of Jesus (the church) and bless you all at the same time.
V. 11 – “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” This verse is a warning to the unsaved who still have time now to accept Jesus as Savior. It means that whatever character traits they have while living on earth; they will have them for eternity in hell. If one is an alcoholic, a drug addict, a pedophile, a gossip, etc… this is what their eternity will consist of. So – the separation from God being bad enough, these people will have added to them their sinful cravings with no way to fulfill them. We have all seen shows which depict the cravings for and the withdrawals from drugs that addicts live with. It’s not a pretty sight, but it will be their eternal lot if they don’t repent and accept the free gift of life.
Why should it matter to us where others decide to spend their eternity? It is because Jesus gave us all the “great commission” to go forth and make disciples of the world. Many pastors teach this as a missionary verse, which it is, but we are all missionaries in this dark and fallen world; therefore, this verse is for us as well.
Those who are righteous and holy are blessed now and their blessings will continue throughout eternity. Isn’t this a great motivator for developing righteousness and holiness while we have time? We, the church made up of those who are born-again, are the righteousness of God, but only as we stand in Christ. We are not yet righteous on our own. Let’s work toward that each day. And remember, even when this study is over, stay in Revelation to find out what the Spirit will reveal to you as you grow.
Next week is our last in Revelation as a study group in HWC. We will celebrate with communion, so bring your elements with you.
STUDY: PART 73
V. 12 – Here is the second time Jesus said He is “coming quickly (tachu).” Remember that I said this means He is coming swiftly with an alert and sharp mind, at once, suddenly. “In the Twinkling (Greek, “a jerk or sudden, momentary event) of an eye” (I Corinthians 15:51-57).
Again we come to another controversy, this time about Jesus’ return for the dead in Christ and the church. One of the statements Jesus made is that only God knows when Jesus is to return for us and that even Jesus didn’t know when it would be (Matthew 24:36). But then, God does nothing that He doesn’t tell His prophets about (Amos 3:7). One thing to remember is, when Jesus spoke those words, He was still in the flesh and the future events had not yet been revealed to Him. Now that He has retaken His throne at the right hand of His Father, He knows all things. Also remember that God told Noah, Abraham, Moses, and others what His plans were and when they would happen. Jesus actually left us a sign from God to watch for that would make us realize His return is soon: The fig tree: Israel. By this I mean the living, thriving, resurrected fig tree.
If you follow ministries like Benny Hinn, John Hagee, Billye Brimm and others, you will see that many Jews are coming to know Jesus as personal Savior. The young woman, Keren, who writes for NBM is a Messianic Jew. There are wonderful evangelical congregations in Jerusalem and all over Israel now, so many of the prophecies for Israel have come to pass.
Some recently fulfilled prophecies:
A. Israel became a state in 1948.
B. Israel won against all odds in the six-day war, June 1967, against several powerful adversaries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Syria.
C. Israel is being repopulated by thousands of Jews who had been scattered throughout the nations of the world.
D. Food of magnificent quality is being produced from the desert.
When Jesus does come back to take the kingdom, He will have rewards for each worker. Should we be seeking these rewards? They should not be a focus or the reason for our service, the love of God should motivate us to serve. But look what Jesus said about rewards. “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven…” (Matthew 5:12). Further, Jesus warned, “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 6:1). These rewards are the fulfillment of the promise Jesus gave us. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal…” (Matthew 6:19, 20). These rewards are for the works we did. Salvation is not by works, but saved people must do works to prove their salvation. As the last proof, let’s read I Corinthians 3:10-14, “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.” So, rewards are good things, they should just not be our why.
V. 13 – Jesus declares that He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. In other words, in today’s vernacular, Jesus is the A-Z. Do you know who else described Himself this way? God did. Look at this in Isaiah 44:6, “This is what the LORD, Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty, says: I am the First and the Last; there is no other God.” Well, how many firsts and lasts can we have in history? We can have two, because these Two are One. We know Jesus is God; therefore both statements are about God and about Jesus. But what are they the start and finish of? Everything! Want to research this? Start in Genesis 1:1 and read through to Revelation 22:21. That’s what they are Alpha and Omega of, Beginning and End of, and First and Last of. From the creation of the heaven and the earth to the creation of the new heaven and new earth, from the separation of land and sea, and the division in the firmament, from the creation of the external light source to the revelation of the spiritual Light Source, they are One and all that was, is, and is to come is at their word. They finish what they start.
V. 14, 15 – “”Blessed are those who do His commandments,” is also written in other translations to read, “Blessed are those who are washing their robes.” Both descriptions are accurate. Washing our robes means we keep ourselves pure each day before God and we accomplish that by living out all the commandments, especially the two greatest ones found in Matthew 22:35-40, “Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” I assure you, if you can get a handle on it and follow these two commandments, you will never break the other ten.
The Tree of Life is the one that had been in the center of the Garden of Eden. It is the one only the righteous ones of God can ever eat from. Remember that we read no sin will be allowed to enter the New Jerusalem. That’s where the Tree will be found, and only those who have kept themselves clean before God will be allowed to come in and eat. None of the “dogs” will be allowed to eat from it.
“Dogs” is a metaphor for the unrighteous and here refers to people, not to the four-legged creature. In Scripture, all who were unclean or unholy were called dogs. Gentiles were considered dogs by the Israelites, Samaritans were considered dogs by everyone, as were tax-collectors! We are not dogs. We are the holy ones of Jesus the Christ if we have given ourselves to Him and maintain short accounts each day to keep our holiness. Who are the dogs? Sorcerers, sexually immoral, murders, idolaters, and those who practice lies were among the long list.
V. 16 – “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you in the churches.” Here the Lord reminds us that He is the Holy one of God, the Messiah, the Anointed One and His Anointing, the Savior, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Nowhere else in the Bible will you find that Jesus said that about Himself. He said it here to tell us of His participation in writing this book and His authority to do so and to confirm the authority of what’s written in this book of Revelation.
As the Commander in Chief of the angelic hosts, He appointed an angel to send forth and declare his Word among the churches. What churches, one might ask, since Christians are the body of Jesus they are the church. The word church also means the local congregation. Therefore, Jesus is sending this message to every church building that hosts meetings whether they are enormous buildings, country churches, people’s front rooms, or the Internet. He is sending this message to every denomination and every division within those denominations. In other words, Revelation is the final warning to come to Christ that was issued by Christ himself. Remember, Revelation is the revealing of the Messiah and His final works.
V. 17 – “And the Spirit (who called each of us) and the bride (the anointed ones, the set apart ones who answered the Spirit’s call) say, COME. And let him that heareth say, COME. And let him that is athirst COME. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
The Holy Spirit of God and the Bride of the Lamb join their voices in one accord and issue an invitation, “COME.” Don’t be left by the wayside, “COME.” Don’t stay behind at the rapture to suffer the Tribulation, “COME.” Don’t hunger and thirst throughout eternity, “COME.” And the beautiful invitation that can be ascribed to Jesus since we first heard it at the well with the Samaritan woman is, COME, drink. “Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? (This was a double surprise to her being a woman and a Samaritan.) for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water” (John 4:9, 10). That’s what Jesus promises, Living Water, which is Himself through His Spirit to drink from for all eternity.
V. 18, 19 – Now we read the final warning. This Book is written by John about Jesus and is signified by the Holy Spirit. The warning is that if we add or take away anything from this book or from its message Jesus will send us the plagues written in this book. Anyone who does this will suffer harsh judgment. I read a book one time written by a man who claimed to be a born-again pastor in which he tried to explain what the symbols of Revelation could be translated to mean in this day. He spoke of helicopters being the stinging locust that would torment the people for 5 months and made other nonsensical statements. I pray he has repented of writing that book and knows the truth now. It’s very easy to try and use other words in newer translations to make this book more understandable or palatable, but it’s absolutely wrong! Does this mean if a Christian rewrites Revelation he/she will lose his/her salvation? I can’t state with total accuracy if that would be the case, but read verse 19 for yourselves, “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” I’d say it’s not worth the risk.
Look at what Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, 18, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” If Jesus won't change what's written, we better make sure we don't.
He, who testifies, is Jesus! How do I know that? “Surely I am coming quickly,” is written in red! What was John’s response and what should be our echoing response? “Even so, COME, Lord Jesus.” Jesus invited us to COME to Him by His Holy Spirit, now we invite Him by His Spirit that is alive in us. COME get us, Lord, we’re ready!
WAIT!!! Are you ready? Make sure you are ready!
V. 20 – I now join my voice in salutation with John to you and to the churches, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”